At that moment, the Southeastern Conference was 4-0 in bowl games with four more on tap including LSU's bid to become National Champions. The Tennessee Vols handled Wisconsin in the opening New Year's bowl game to put the SEC at an impressive 5-0. For us Southern folk, this was more vindication for what we've been preaching for years - the South is where the best college football is played on this here planet.
So what could spoil our Southern fun?
The Arkansas Razorbacks.
The Hogs barely showed up in Dallas for their Cotton Bowl showdown with Missouri. Not only did they get stomped 38-7 by the Tigers, but they gave up a record-setting rushing day to tailback Tony Temple.
I know what you are thinking - isn't Missouri supposed to be a passing team?
That question got me to thinking about the embarrassment that is the University of Arkansas. Why is my SEC joy and pride always rained upon by the folks of Fayetteville? What can be done about these pathetic pigs?
Here is my solution: kick them out of the SEC.
(Yes, I know that Florida also lost its bowl game, played in Florida no less, to an 11-point underdog Michigan team. I know. Florida, however, has brought the conference a Heisman Trophy and three national championships (2 basketball, one football) in the last two years. They get a pass.)
Drastic? Extreme? Unnecessary? Let's look at the evidence against the University of Arkansas before we dismiss this idea faster than Houston Nutt can find a job in the same division of the same conference as the team that let him go.
What team was that, you ask? You know.
Exhibit A: Hiring Bobby Petrino The entire world hates the guy after he bailed on the already decimated Atlanta Falcons with three games left in the season, after he told the team owner he was not going to leave and after he told the team about it with a note.
A note! 7th graders leave notes on lockers to break-up. I leave notes on the fridge to remind my wife to thaw meat for dinner. Petrino thinks it is sufficient to abandon a group of men he promised to lead! That is the man picked to lead the Razorbacks. He actually made Les Miles look like a stand-up guy with his shenanigans. Rich Rodriguez seems like a saint compared to Bobby Pe-see-ya.
Why would Arkansas be looking for a new head coach?
Exhibit B: The "firing" of Houston Nutt I know, he actually resigned. And I don't plagiarize my articles off Wikipedia! Nutt was forced out of Fayetteville for having the audacity to bench freshmen quarterback Mitch Mustain and take the play-calling reigns from Gus Malzahn so that the best running back in the country might touch the ball more often.
Wait, isn't that what a head coach is supposed to do? Make those kind of decisions? I guess they didn't work. I guess that Arkansas team didn't make it to the SEC Championship game and nearly beat the soon-to-be National Champion Florida Gators.
Exhibit C: Freedom of Information Act When John Locke argued for government by consent of the governed, he clearly had not visited Little Rock, Arkansas. The good people there used their democratic freedoms to attain phone records on Coach Nutt in the hopes of either saving him some money on long distance or finding some type of dirt to get him gone.
That's right - the Hog faithful figured out that Nutt is technically a state government official subject to the mentioned law. Pretty smart, I guess, but also pretty slimy. Hard to imagine what kind of guy would be willing to work at Arkansas when you are surrounded by the type of scum that would do this (see: Exhibit A).
Exhibit D: Stan Heath Your team plays its way into the NCAA tournament and what is your reward?
A pink slip.
It sure seemed like those kids were playing their butts off to keep Coach Heath around as the rumors swirled, but I guess that didn't occur to the Powers That Be at Arkansas (they might have been too busy researching Coach Nutt's texting habits). Back-to-back 20 win seasons apparently didn't get their attention either.
Exhibit E: Dana Altman It sure didn't take him long to realize that Arkansas was not the place to be. About 24 hours to be exact. Of all the people involved in this article so far, Altman seems like the most respectable of the bunch (including, sadly, yours truly) and he bolted quicker than it has taken me to write this article. It is circumstantial evidence, but I'm throwing it out there.
Exhibit...what are we up to now? Oh yeah - F: Nolan Richardson This one was not the university's fault, but embarrassing nonetheless. Richardson, who led Arkansas to 3 Final Four appearances, went on a crazy tirade about racism, Frank Boyles and exactly what happens to his 40 Minutes of Hell pressure in the event of overtime and got himself canned. Weird.
Only at Arkansas.
Exhibit G: Geography Is Arkansas even an Eastern state? It is located west of the Mississippi River which makes it a Western state in my book. In fact, before entering the SEC, Arkansas played in the SWC - the Southwestern Conference. That is the opposite of Southeastern! Well, opposite would be Northwestern, but that is a school and not a conference, so this is the next best thing in terms of building my case. How can you be West one day and then East the next?
Exhibit H: School colors Sorry, but you look too much like Alabama and Mississippi State. It is bad enough that we have two Bulldogs and two Tigers, but three similar shades of red?
This isn't my strongest argument.
Exhibit H: Nobody hates you Sorry, but it is true. Nobody considers Arkansas to be their "big rival." The closest thing to a big Razorback rival is LSU, but that is really just because the teams always play on the Thursday or Friday of Thanksgiving Day weekend. I have never actually heard an LSU fan rant about hating Arkansas. They hate Nick Saban and Alabama, not Bobby Petrino and Arkansas.
Nobody hates Arkansas, but nobody likes them either. They are a disgrace to a conference that sets a high bar for disgraces. We are the conference of Tommy Lewis, Adolph Rupp and Colonel Reb. We are the SEC!
And we want you out.
Heck, I didn't even mention that Arkansas lost to The Citadel in football (you weren't the first, Appy State) while a member of the conference or the episode when Danny Ford was caught endorsing harm on the Tennessee football team at the end of a defeat or even the Hog-loving Clintons and their inability to translate presidential popularity and a booming economy into any sort of lasting social or political change.
Now that Arkansas is gone, who should replace them? We can't have 11 teams. That makes no sense whatsoever. No conference would have that weird amount of teams, no matter how slow, over-rated and gutless when scheduling out-of-conference games that conference might be.
Here are my candidates:
Notre Dame - This works on so many levels. First, the ratings. I know nothing about ratings and care nothing about ratings, but I hear from time to time that Notre Dame brings ratings. They must mean something to somebody, so the SEC might as well get them.
Next, they are Catholic. If you have never been here to the South, we don't care much for Catholics. According to my grandparents, Catholics are all burning in hell right next to the Mormons and Vegetarians. The kind of vitriol that Southern Baptists feel towards Catholics is second only to the hatred Auburn Tigers feel towards the Crimson Tide. They say that football is a religion in the South; now we will literally add religion into our football in the South.
Finally, they are Irish. If you have never been here to the South, we don't care much for Irish people. According to my grandparents, Irish people are burning in hell right next to the Blacks and Republicans. The intensity that adding Notre Dame to the SEC would bring is scary. Literally scary.
The problem, besides the scary hatred I just mentioned, is that Notre Dame is not in the South. It is in Indiana or Illinois or Iowa and none of them are Southern. It isn't really in the East either, but it does play basketball in the Big East so there is a precedent there. I'm afraid, however, that it isn't strong enough to bring the Irish to the SEC.
Colorado - The Buffs football team has been on probation, accused of holding sexual parties for recruits and vilified for the horrific treatment of a female kicker. All together, it would be less embarrassing to have them in the conference than Arkansas.
Appalachian State - I mentioned them earlier in a subtle bit of foreshadowing. Not so subtle now though. The Mountaineers beat Michigan, making a Big 10 school look slow and prodding - they will fit right into the SEC! They also have won back-to-back FBS championships. They stink at everything else, however, and would be the only North Carolina school in the conference. The SEC is also more of a "raging drunk" conference rather than a "stoned-out-of-our-mind" one, so this does not seem to be a great fit.
Memphis - Hmm, this one is intriguing for reasons other than the fact that I own a degree from the university. The Tigers are stuck in the terrible Conference USA after all the good teams jumped ship to the Big East a few years ago. They are a basketball powerhouse, have natural rivals in Ole Miss (45 minutes away from Memphis), Tennessee, Auburn and LSU (another Tiger - see?) and are decent enough at football to hang. The problem with adding Memphis is...what is the problem with adding Memphis?
Oh, yeah - we are stuck with Arkansas. I guess that Memphis is Exhibit X or something like that. Arkansas was given a golden opportunity to join the greatest conference in collegiate sports back in 1990. It has brought the conference a few highlights, but too many low lights. Yesterday's Cotton Bowl was the last straw for me.
Pig Fooey - addition by subtraction is razoring those Hogs right out of the SEC.